The Eternal Battle Between Religion and Science

October 4, 2007

I have my very own ideas, though they rarely are voiced. I have through my life learnt only to speak up on topics which already are accepted, and never become radical in any way. I am however a person of radical and unique ideas, though they are not as many as I would like. To hold them within one, to feel them grow, is not pleasant, for even the most radical of ideas need to be voiced at times. If so only for a second. For, life can only hold so many things at once, they can not all be closed in. It provides no development for anyone, nor personal success.

As I opened the newspaper this morning, I was reminded of a startling fact – a fact that has spawned radical ideas within me, ones I have never been able to voice because of people’s disrespect for the publication of such ideas. It was an article about the creationism vs. evolutionism movement in America, where religious fundamentalists wish to ban the scientific theory of evolution for a (in my eyes fictional story to tell by an ancient campfire) religious belief called creationism.

As an atheist, I have problems understanding how people can become blindfolded by their own beliefs. As a scientific person, I find it hard to believe I ever can come to be as blindfolded by scientific discoveries I or others make. I always take new ideas with a pinch of salt, for most often they are aiming at too distant stars or contain little or no truth at all. This regards all theories, news and ideas. At first, I may become a little obsessive, thinking that it must be too good to be true, or the reverse. But it does not take long after the initial shock for me to come to my senses, speak to myself in an inner, calm voice, and see the issue with a new pair of eyes. Most often, I can tell what is the truth and what is not from such an approach, and I prevent myself from going blind that way. I am also open to new ideas, and I will gladly admit that I were wrong, when proven wrong. For, I can not be worse than accepting defeat. There is no point in fighting an impossible battle, one I will unevidably lose.

Everyone is entitled to their own faith and sets of beliefs. To say that no one is allowed to think any differently from me, would be to go fundamentalist. I do not force my own beliefs upon others, I do not shove my own ideas down their throats. Rather, I keep them for myself, especially when knowing that they never will be accepted. When it comes to this, I will not join them because I can not beat them, I will instead muffle and never make a sound. Though, my recent trains of thought has made me feel that I through not speaking up have joined those I do not underdstand. It is because of realizations like that, that my radical ideas desire to smell the crispness of the autumn’s air.

People of religious beliefs are happy people, there is no arguing that. I have not met many, but I have met a few, who rely upon their faith in the every day and its stressful events. There are times when I envy them, for their calm and tranquility. There are times when I wish to be part of a belief, to think that there is no need to worry, for it has all been decided by someone greater than me. My accumulated knowledge of things and my common sense, has however kept me from doing that, it has made me remain myself. I can however never hate nor disrespect those who believe, for it must be a simple life. And, as I do not wish to be judged by those who believe, I am in no position to judge them by myself.

I do however draw a fine line between the people of faith and those who base their knowledge upon science and experience. What can be proven and predicted must be the truth, but if people wish to believe otheriwse, there is no wrong in that. I just do not believe that those who can prove nothing, but simply believe, should be prioritized and to be allowed to have the most to say. If the people of religion are offended by those without – when they claim that their scientific discoveries are the truth – why are the people of no religion then not allowed to be offended when the religion claims that it, and only it, speaks the truth?

The ideas of evolution have inpired many scientific and medical discoveries all in the name of the welfare of mankind. These discoveries have saved lives of many who believe that evolutionism is nothing but nonsense. To this I would like to contrast and ask, what greater good has the religious creationism done to people, other than to cloud their minds from what unmistakenly must be the truth?

There are many examples of what religion has done for mankind, in a positive context, such as to provide faith and security without requiring more than simple belief. To believe is essential to many, and I can not forbid them to do so. For, many are those who have been helped through hard times by the promises religion makes and the hope it provides.
There are however also many examples of what problems religion has created – problems the world would have been better off without. Even to this day religion creates problems and spreads proven lies – the one that I come to think of off the top of my head – the Catholic church’s claim that condoms are transmitters of HIV.

Mild beliefs have done no one any harm, the real danger lies within the realm of the fundamentalism – something which had done no one any good. Because of this history of theirs, to only create problems and nothing good, I do not think that fundamentalists should be seen as the only ones who speak the truth neither shouold they be the ones who decide the fate of the rest of us.

I have read that there are 20 out of 50 American states that consider teaching their children the ideas of creationism. I assume that these states contain a vast majority of fundamentalists (if the world ever many forgive me for using that word in that context). I am worried about this, for 20 out of 50 is not much less than half. And if 50% of the world’s most influential country believe that creationism is the truth, as opposed to evolutionism, what fate is the rest of the world then facing? The thought gives me nighmares, even if the sun may blaze high up into the skies.

I think that those who think creationism is the truth, should think a little more. What future do they wish for their own children to have, or their children, or their children? What do they wish for the future of the human race? Do they deep inside themselves wish that the world should be filled with fundamentalists (the friction between such groups and the rest of the population of the world is already a painful reality)? Do they really wish for mankind to be fundamentalist – blind for other ideas than their own? I think that the fate is horrible, if it is our future, that our race eventually will stagnate and most likely turn itself extinct.

I think that mankind has the potential to do greater things, to develop more, that the single man will grow to become more than the sum of his parts.

Children are our future, which is not at all cheezy to say. What would be the point of having children, if they were not our future, what would be the point of life when there is none, for without the children of the past, we the children of today, would never have been. Because children are ouyr future, the future of man, they deserve the very best we can offer them. Man is a species that has gone so far (and in the future will go even farther) because we have been standing on the shoulders of giants of the past. We have been able to rely upon our ancestors’ experience and through that evolve. Without this ability of ours we would still be the prey of great animals, trying to make a living by scavenging the savannah, our only tools being those one person has come up with, over and over again? It was quite possible the stone axe that was our greatest invention, being a tool to aquiring protein, making our brains grow. Without that axe, where would we have been? What if we could not learn from our parents, and the greatest invention of all time would have been forgotten through the passage of time.

Children are our future and because of that they deserve nothing but the very best. They deserve a good education so they one day can become responsible adults, for, they our children will be those who give birth to our grandchildren, the ultimate proof of that our lives had meaning. A good education is the solid soundation upon which the children will rely for achieving their future success. Children need to be taught the facts, not stories which will comfort them during hard times. Such stories they may learn at home, if their parents find it fit, as part of their cultural heritage from the domestic sphere. Some people’s culture may involve the stories of the Holy Books, while others’ culture only revolve around proverbs which, like religious stories, provide comfort and guidance through hard times.

The United Sates have forever claimed to be the land of freedom and the country of dreams. I do however not believe in this, which they all prod with, saying that this indeed is true. If fundamentalists, blind to proven facts, may dictate the future for the rest of us, what difference is there between such ideas and the ideas of dictators? American (and perhaps all other people in this world) wish to decide things for themselves. But then I ask, why can not schools teach children about the ideas of evolution? Why can not the religious and the scientific world peacefully coexist?

Albert Einstein, one of mankind’s great geniuses, said:
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

People have a need, a desire, to believe. And I think that nothing, ever, can remove that part of the human mind. It is essential, not only in religious contexts, but in all. For, if I did not believe that I am facing a splendid future, then what point would there be to my life?

I am no believer, nor do I claim to know the truth. I do however understand how some may believe, for it must be such a comfort to rely upon something far greater than oneself – to imagine there must be no worries if only I live right, for my reward will await me by the time of my passing. I have no such belief, and still I am alive and well. I have my dark days, but so does everyone else. I have managed to pull through everything I have faced this far, and really, I see no point in changing a winning concept. A proverb I have come to love is the one which says: “If it is not broken, do not fix it.” And really, that is true.

I wonder, what ever happened to the historic context. In ancient Japan, the goddess Amaterasu [she who illuminates the heavens], the sun goddess, was worshipped as a deity. Other cultures have worshipped gods of all shapes and forms, like the Norse who who had many deities and a rich mythology. To this day, who believe that these religions speak of nothing but the truth? I have not heard of any Japanese who try to convince the world of that the theories of evolutionism are false and lies, all because Amaterasu-omikami was the ancestor of the imperial family. Neither have I ever met any Scandinavians who tell me, Josephine the atheist, that I should believe in Odin and Thor and their greatness, for Odin was the wisest of them all and as a scientific person, I share some of his traits. Neither have I heard them tell me to believe in the greatness of Thor, he who slayed the Midgard Serpent, he who makes the world shiver in fear when the thunderstorms roam the skies. No, those beliefs are since long gone. What makes Christianity any different?

Do you still believe that Thor is hunting giants when the sky is sparkling with lightning and thunder?

I am however not at all without belief. For, I believe in many things. I believe that the sun is always blazing, smiling, no matter where I am. The clouds have not made the sun go away, they have simply hidden it, but it is all for the greater joy of those who prefer clouds before the sun. I believe in that I have a brilliant future to face and to create for myself. I believe in the potential of mankind, that we have an even more splendid future to face, a future so bright we can never fully understand it. I believe there is a solution to any problem, for nothing is truly impossible.

I am also of the belief that we are not alone. There is no chance that we, the humans, may be the only children of the universe and its magnificence. I will forever believe this, for it comforts me, to imagine what other worlds must be like. Some say to me that I am nothing but a dreamer, with no future in sight. Someone as unrealistic as me must be crazy, without sanity. But, who are they to question me, when I do not question them? If science fiction and science facts make my days, can I then not be allowed to dream and to smile? For, I do not shove my ideas down other’s throats, claim that what I believe and only that, is the sole truth.

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